Yesterday, I asked myself an honest question: "Why does it seem that the American people cared more about the revolution in Egypt than the one that is currently going on in Libya?" And then a scarier question: "Does the fact that Charlie Sheen is on Twitter this week have anything to do with it?" I pondered the questions while I continued to read the Times and then posed the questions to my Twitter followers. I got some great responses.
Some of the points that struck home with me:
1) It is amazing what kind of response you get to a truly honest question.
2) I need to get add some new sources of information since a lot of my current sources seem to be saying the exact same thing.
3) In the world of constant and instant information, our ability to care about one thing that doesn't directly effect us is increasingly short. Especially if the trend, in this case revolutions, is some what similar to what we cared about last week, we want something new.
This last point resonated with me and actually brought up a point that I had made in a conversation last year around the time of the floods in Pakistan. We are a fickle bunch that likes having our cause de jour but don't want to be tapped for more than that. And, because of the earthquakes in Haiti earlier in the year, we were all tapped out when it came time to jump in on being a part of the relief in Pakistan. We had all texted when Larry King and the Red Cross asked us to in January, so we were a little busy in July when asked again by those on the ground in Pakistan.
All of this continues to push me to believe that there must be a better way to change the world than the current nonprofit systems that rely on the fickleness of the American public. There needs to be more to motivate true change than a celebrity asking you to donate for their birthday, a news anchor using their "oh so serious" voice, or one of a dozen "we know it is the end of the year and you need a tax write off" postcards that I get each December from well meaning charities.
There needs to be a shift and a bigger way of thinking about things than our current filters. There needs to be more to our news cycle than Charlie Sheen and his #Winning. There needs to be a story bigger than ourselves that we believe in enough to sacrifice short term entertainment for long term gain.